First in the KBO, only 10 in MLB history…KIA was going to fail, why?
“I think I would have rounded the (first) base no matter what.”
Doosan Bears infielder Kang Seung-ho, 29, was on the verge of becoming the first player in KBO history to reach the milestone. A team victory was more important than an individual record. Doosan played the first game of a season-defining three-game series against the KIA Tigers in Gwangju on April 15. Before the game, Doosan was in sixth place and KIA was in fourth. Only one game separated the two teams. A loss in this weekend’s three-game series could mean elimination from the fall baseball season.
The record Kang Seung-ho was trying to break was the “reverse cycle. A hit for the cycle is when a player hits a single, double, triple, and home run in any order in a game. A hit for the cycle completed by hitting a single, double, triple, and home run in that order is called a natural cycle, while a hit for the cycle completed by hitting a home run, double, triple, and single in that order is called a reverse cycle. The KBO does not recognize the reverse cycle as an official record. No player has ever done it before Seung-ho Kang.
Kang Seung-ho activated the home run machine in the top of the third inning with the score tied 1-1. Two batters later, he stole a home run to left off KIA starter Yoon Young-cheol. With the count at 0-1, he took a two-pitch changeup high and away. It was a big hit that gave Doosan a 2-1 lead.
After warming up with the home run, Kang Seung-ho’s bat got hotter and hotter. In the bottom of the fourth inning, starter Brandon Waddell gave up a two-run homer to KIA’s Lee Woo-sung to cut the deficit to 2-5. With runners on first and third after a single and stolen base by Yang Ji-ji and a walk by Kim Jae-hwan, Kang Seung-ho hit a two-run triple to right-center field to make it 4-5. He tied the game at 5-5 with an RBI single to center field. It’s no exaggeration to say that Kang Seung-ho’s triple was the game-winning hit.
In the top of the seventh inning, he took another step closer to the record. One out later, Seung-ho Kang hit a double down the left field line, putting him just one hit away from a hit for the cycle, and heading into the top of the ninth tied at 6-6. One out later, Jose Rojas drew a walk. Doosan needed more than a single to win the game. Kang Seung-ho knew in his heart that he had to hit a long ball no matter what.
But the heavens did not allow him to hit a long ball. Kang Seung-ho’s shot deflected in front of KIA closer Jung Hae-young and rolled in front of the first baseman for an infield single. It was the final piece of the puzzle, a single, and the first reverse cycle since the KBO’s inception in 1982. With the bases loaded, Kim In-tae and Park Jun-young drew back-to-back walks to give Doosan an 8-6 victory. The five-game winning streak didn’t move Doosan out of sixth place, but it did bolster their hopes for a top-five finish by eliminating the gap between them and Kia, who dropped to fifth.
“I was aware of (the record), but I didn’t think too much about it because we weren’t in a situation where we had a lot of time to spare,” Kang said of his first hit-for-the-cycle reverse cycle. Rojas was on first base, so I went in thinking about a long hit.” The idea was to put more pressure on Kia by letting the first baseman reach third base even if he didn’t make it.
He affirmed that he would have played to the end if it was a long hit. Kang Seung-ho said, “If we had a big lead and had time to spare, I would have been very conscious, but we weren’t in that situation. If it was a long shot, I would have played unconditionally. It was a game against KIA, which was competing for an important position, and the score wasn’t very close, so I think I would have run the bases unconditionally,” he confessed.
Even though he was determined to fail, it was an honor to leave his first footprint in the KBO. Kang Seung-ho said, “It feels good to set at least one first-time record while playing baseball. I hope to set many good records in the future,” he smiled.
The reverse cycle is a rare feat that has only been accomplished by 10 players in the 100-year history of Major League Baseball. Henry Larkin was the first in 1885, followed by Bid McPhee in 1887, Sam Mertes in 1904, Gee Walker in 1937, Archie Vaughn in 1939, Jackie Robinson in 1948, Jim Fregosi in 1968, Luke Scott in 2006, Carlos Gomes in 2008, and Rajai Davis in 2016. Luke Scott played for the SK Wyverns (now SSG Landers) in the KBO in 2014 as a foreign hitter.
The natural cycle is also not a common record. It has been accomplished 15 times in Major League Baseball and only once in the KBO. Kim Eung-kook of the Lotte Giants hit a single, double, triple, and home run on April 14, 1996, against the Sajik Hanwha Eagles.
Kang Seung-ho is the sixth hitter in Doosan history to accomplish a Hit for the Cycle. Thanks to Kang Seung-ho, Doosan is the organization with the most Hit for the Cycle hitters in the KBO. The Samsung Lions are in second place with five.
During the OB era, Lim Hyung-seok (August 23, 1992 against Jamsil Lotte) became the first Bears player to achieve the Hit for the Cycle, followed by Lee Jong-wook (April 11, 2009 at Gymsil LG Electronics), Oh Jae-won (May 23, 2014 at Jamsil Hanwha), Park Geon-woo (June 16, 2016 at Gwangju KIA), and Jeong Jin-ho (June 7, 2017 at Jamsil Samsung Electronics).
Doosan head coach Lee Seung-yeop said, “Today (Friday) is Kang Seung-ho’s day. His record of cycling hits is great, but they all came at a time when the team really needed them. It means a lot to both the team and the individual. Congratulations on your first personal record and 30th all-time,” he said.
However, Kang Seung-ho was not satisfied. “I hit a home run and a triple because of my defense, but I think I still felt a little uncomfortable. I wasn’t excited and felt uncomfortable,” he said, vowing to improve his defense in the next game. 온라인바카라
In the remaining two games against Kia, the team plans to fight hard and take as many wins as possible. Kang Seung-ho said, “Until the end of the game, there was a feeling that we wouldn’t lose even if we were reversed. I thought the whole team was capable of winning the game,” said Kang.
“We actually finished ninth last year, so we’re definitely playing a tough game, but it’s good and fun to be in a ranking battle. Compared to other games, playing against a team that is fighting for the rankings makes it more tense, but we are having fun.”
Kang Seung-ho is not the type of player to keep memorabilia. He doesn’t even know where his first hit in the KBO is, but he’s going to keep the KBO’s first reverse cycle souvenir he received that day.
Kang Seung-ho said, “I don’t think I’ve kept a souvenir since elementary school. I’ll take care of it and give it to my wife,” he laughed.